Fast Tips to Prepare for an Earthquake

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

The recent earthquake in Alaska got me thinking the threat of earthquakes is ever present in many areas.  I was relieved there were no major injuries and damage was minimal but there were a lot of frayed nerves.  I hope people will take a few steps to get more prepared before a bigger earthquake happens.

Earthquakes are always unexpected, so preparations need to be made as soon as possible and maintained are part of everyday living.

How do you prepare for on earthquake?

Find the safest place to be

Identify the safest spots in each room and let all family members especially kids, know how to find them.  Under a sturdy table or against an inside wall are some areas to consider.

While the earth is shaking, remember to:

  • Drop – try to be low to the ground so you do not get knocked down.
  • Seek cover – protect your head and neck, and try to get under the sturdy desk or table mentioned above.
  • Hold on – to keep your balance, hold on to something firm until the shaking stops.

Fasten your furniture and appliances

Secure large furniture such as bookshelves and large appliances to the walls to prevent them from falling on top of you in the middle of the night.  You can use brackets or straps to secure even a large screen TV.

Consider the placement of mirrors, large picture frames and other heavy objects.  They may look good over the bed or couch, but they can fall on people very quickly when an earthquake happens.  If you must have them close to you, at least make sure they are secure against the wall.

Should you stay put or run outside

Running out of a building is not recommended after a major earthquake as many injuries actually occur when people get hit by debris while moving to another location.  You should still know all the exits out of your home or building should it become unsafe after the earthquake.  If you live in an apartment, get familiar with all the stairways and exit doors  in case a fire or gas leak results from the earthquake and you need to evacuate.

If you are in bed, stay there until the shaking stops.  Resist the desire to bolt out of bed and run barefoot – you may be stepping on broken glass.  Keep comfortable shoes next to your bed.  Keep flashlights next to you where you can easily reach for them.  Tell your kids the same thing – running out of their rooms while the ground is shaking can be dangerous.

Three days of food and water is not enough

After the earthquake in Alaska, the water supply in some areas were disrupted.  People in social media were reporting about families were running out of water just eight hours after the earthquake.  This means they had no water stored.  Fortunately for them, water lines was restored right away, but what happens if damage were more extensive and repairs could not be made right away?  That is why water is the most important emergency preparedness item to store.  Include a gallon of water per person per day.

When I lived in Los Angeles, most of my friends and neighbors felt their emergency kit with three days of food and water was enough.  That is good to have as a start, but build it up to a week’s worth and try to increase it from there.

If you have an “Earthquake Emergency Kit” open it before and earthquake happens.

They are better than nothing, but when I actually opened one, I found a couple of servings of instant noodle soup, aluminum packets of water, a handful of candles and a couple of match books.  A better step is to build your own, and tailor it to your family.  Include aforementioned food and water, lighting sources, backup ways to cook, radio and batteries, as well as a first aid kit, including prescription medicines and extra glasses.

Keep a survival kit in the car as well as your office.

Make a communications plan

Have an out of state contact, build a texting tree, and have a plan to get home in the event of an earthquake while you’re at work.

Always keep your cell phone charged, and have a hard copy of emergency numbers.

Know how to turn off utilities

Even though you live in an apartment, you may have to shutoff the water going into your unit, or turn off gas.  Learn how to do this so you can practice before it happens.  Repair crews may not always be around, so  a few tools handy to help you do what’s needed.  Always keep a wrench near the gas and connections, so you don’t have to search for them in a crisis.

I hope these tips that are easily done in an afternoon or two will help someone get started before the next earthquake happens.

About the author:

Bernie Carr is the founder of Apartment Prepper. She has written several books including the best-selling Prepper’s Pocket Guide, Jake and Miller’s Big Adventure, The Penny-Pinching Prepper and How to Prepare for Most Emergencies on a $50 a Month Budget. Her work appears in sites such as the Allstate Blog and, as well as print magazines such as Backwoods Survival Guide and Prepper Survival Guide. She has been featured in national publications such as Fox Business and Popular Mechanics. Learn more about Bernie here.


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  1. I would recommend adding a small dome tent, sleeping bags and ground pads and a small rocket stove with a boy scout type mess kit. you may be sleeping out side for some time as the building may be unsafe.

    Make sure you kit is stored just inside you main door so you can grab it as you leave the building. If you use a GI duffle bag and a hard suitcase that has wheels you can move them easily. With you kit being just inside the door you can also get it with out going very far into a damaged building. Dot not forget the sanitation items in you kit.

    1. Hi Oldguy, When living in earthquake territory the emergency bag should include the items you mentioned in an easy to grab spot close to the exit. Thanks for the comment.

  2. If u have an awairness of events going on around u, you can hear an earthquake before it gets to u as sound travells faster than the p and s waves of the quake.

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